Before Progress was founded over 29 years ago, institutional investors — especially those with limited resources — found it virtually impossible to allocate assets to start-up investment firms. Even those with the vision and conviction to invest with smaller asset managers often could not do so owing to asset size restrictions and limited sourcing capabilities. Progress solved this challenge by creating a new business model focused on finding and vetting talent and building diversified, risk-controlled portfolios of young, high performing investment firms. Our multi-manager model also minimized the business risk of investing in new, small companies.
Since its inception in 1990, Progress has funded nearly 200 asset managers and since that time, we have continued to innovate and offer customized emerging manager strategies across the efficient frontier. The Progress model of investing — focused on controlling business risk as well as portfolio risk — remains a cost-effective and efficient way for institutional investors to access emerging manager talent.
Our Founder: One Man’s Dream
Acutely aware of the opportunity costs plaguing an industry that favored “sameness” of size, age, and brand — traits not necessarily correlated with investment success — Marx L. Cazenave, II, founded Progress Investment Management Company in 1990 to provide institutional investors with expert access to entrepreneurial investment talent. As the first African American stock broker at E.F. Hutton, and Head of the Small Business Administration under President Jimmy Carter, Marx’s dream was born out of personal experience, fueled by passion, and executed with purpose, integrity and excellence. He successfully promoted his idea to others, who then joined him providing the capital and talent needed for his vision to succeed.
In 2001, Marx transitioned the business to the next generation of leadership. He remains a strategic adviser to the firm.
IN THE BEGINNING
Progress is co-founded by Marx Cazenave and Ed Callan, pioneering the first Emerging Manager of Managers Fund. Pacific Telesis, General Electric Corporation and State of Maryland are the first clients investing a total of $55 million in two funds, Progress’ flagship large cap commingled fund, The Common Trust and a core bond fund, The Fixed Trust. Both strategies remain in existence today.
THE ORIGINAL EMERGING MANAGER DATABASE
In conjunction with the launch of the firm, Progress compiles the first Emerging Manager Database, a comprehensive resource that has since grown from 200 firms to over 2,800 firms and over 4,000 strategies followed today.
CUSTOMIZATION COMES OF AGE
Progress introduces Separate Account Management as a product option to the institutional marketplace. Under this structure, clients can now customize their Emerging Manager of Managers portfolios across a wide spectrum of criteria and asset classes. Separate account vehicles remain a significant part of the Progress product platform today.
A COMMITMENT TO SHARED BEST PRACTICES
Progress hosts its first Plan Sponsor and Emerging Manager Conference for clients, their consultants and funded managers at GE’s corporate learning center in Crotonville, NY. This event has become a cornerstone of Progress’ commitment to thought leadership, intellectual capital and shared best practices and is still held regularly today.
DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD
Progress, committed to corporate citizenship through charitable giving, establishes its first philanthropic partnership with a donor-advised fund managed by the San Francisco Foundation.
SMALL CAP JOINS THE PRODUCT PLATFORM
Progress launches its third commingled fund product, the small cap Capital Appreciation Trust (CAT) Fund.
OUR FIRST AUM MILESTONE
Progress passes $1 billion in assets under management.
Progress launches the first Emerging Manager international strategy with its fourth commingled fund product, the Non-U.S. Fund.
PRIVATE EQUITY PRODUCT LAUNCH
Progress, in partnership with Brinson Partners (now Adams Street Partners) raises its first private equity fund, the Progress Alternative Investment Program (AIP), a fund-of-funds strategy with an emphasis on minority-owned GPs and portfolio companies.
MID CAP JOINS THE PRODUCT PLATFORM
Progress launches its fifth commingled fund product, the Mid Cap Fund.
Progress passes $2 billion in assets under management.
PROGRESS ACQUIRED BY LIBERTY FINANCIAL
As a testament to its value, Progress is acquired by Liberty Financial Companies (NYSE:L). Through this partnership Progress seeks to unlock additional company value by garnering an enhanced distribution platform for its emerging manager products. With this acquisition, firm co-founder Ed Callan retires from an active role with Progress.
Progress passes $3 billion in assets under management.
THE CALPERS MANAGER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Progress/Highcrest Partners, (a joint venture) is selected as one of two partners in the first-of-its-kind CalPERS Manager Development Program (MDP). In this role, the partnership identifies and makes direct investments into emerging firms on behalf of CalPERS.
A CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Co-Founder Marx Cazenave appoints Thurman White, then Managing Director, President of Progress.
Progress passes $4 billion in assets under management.
ENTER FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL
Before the full value of Progress’ partnership with Liberty Financial Companies can be realized, FleetBoston Financial (NYSE:FBF) acquires Liberty Financial Companies (NYSE:L).
Co-founder Marx Cazenave retires as Chairman and CEO of Progress.
BANK OF AMERICA TO ACQUIRE FLEET
Riding the merger and acquisition wave, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) plans to acquire Progress’ new parent, FleetBoston Financial (NYSE:FBF).
RETURN TO A LEGACY OF INDEPENDENCE
The Progress Management Team, led by Thurman White and a strategic client partner, execute a management buyback returning Progress to its legacy of an independent, employee-owned, minority-owned firm.
AN AUM MILESTONE
Progress passes $5 billion in assets under management.
A NEW HOME FOR PROGRESS
Moving Day! After 15 years, Progress relocates its headquarters, acquiring more space for the growing firm.
Consistent with its plans as an independent company, Progress offers equity ownership broadly throughout the firm. Ownership grows from the original six employee partners, who invested at the time of the buyback, to 25 employee owners following the offering.
EXPANDING OUR PHILANTHROPIC REACH
Progress, in conjunction with the 21st Century Foundation, creates the Progress Investment Charitable Fund, allocating a portion of the firm’s profits for grant making in an effort to positively impact the lives of children and families in economically challenged communities across the country. Progress’ giving is focused on public education, financial literacy, the arts and healthcare.
AN AUM MILESTONE
Progress crosses $6 billion in assets under management.
Progress acquires outside investor’s minority equity interest, returning Progress to its legacy as an independent, 100% employee-owned firm.
AN AUM MILESTONE
Progress crosses $7 billion in assets under management.
MAJOR FOOTPRINT IN THE FOUNDATION MARKET
Progress enters the Foundation and Endowment market in a significant way by developing the first of its kind emerging manager partnership with 8th largest foundation in the country.
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF EMERGING MANAGER EXCELLENCE
TWENTY – THEN, NOW, NEXT
Progress’ CEO Thurman White publishes a book entitled “Twenty – Then, Now, Next” where he shared his perspectives on the benefits of long-term strategic thinking combined with effective team-building to achieve successful growth.
LAUNCH OF PROGRESS GLOBAL EMERGING HEDGE FUND PLATFORM
In its continuous effort to expand the range of diversified, multi-asset investment solutions that are aligned with clients’ investment objectives, Progress launches emerging hedge fund strategies for institutional investors.
Progress passes $8.4 billion in assets under management.
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF EMERGING MANAGER EXCELLENCE.
Mona Williams appointed President. Patricia Gerrick joins as Chief Investment Officer
2018 - 2019
Progress begins succession planning initiative led by its independent Board members
2019 - 2020
Pre-Pandemic, the Progress succession planning initiative fails. Progress senior management decides to wind-down the firm’s investment advisory business. The firm works closely with clients, employees, its Board and advisors, sub-managers, vendors and other stakeholders to orderly transition client portfolios, reduce headcount, and resolve vendor agreements. All client assets are transitioned successfully by May 29, 2020.